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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Media Statement: The South African Human Rights Commission Addresses the National House of Traditional Leaders

09th December 2016

ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) addressed a sitting of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) in Parliament on the matter between the African Diaspora Forum and Others v His Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini, on the 7 December 2016, at Parliament in Cape Town.
The Commission shared information about its mandate in terms of the Constitution to “promote respect for, monitor, and assess the observance of human rights in South Africa”, as well as its work in the provinces with traditional leaders. The Commission encouraged the NHTL to work with Chapter 9 bodies, such as the Commission, to accelerate awareness and realisation of human rights in all communities.

The presentation to the NHTL afforded the Commission an opportunity to speak about the Bill of Rights, the rights of foreign nationals, the need to eradicate discrimination, challenge service delivery impacting on basic rights and the duty to collectively work toward achieving social cohesion. The Commission prevailed upon the NHTL to consider its relationship with the Commission in developing the plan contained in the recommendations of the Commission’s report in the matter between the African Diaspora Forum and Others v His Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini.

The Commission noted that his Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini, had not complied with the recommendations of the Commission within the required timelines set by the Commission. In addition, the Commission impressed upon the NHTL the duty of compliance with recommendations by the Commission. The attention of the NHTL was thereafter drawn to the recommendations directed to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and itself, in terms of section 184 (2)(b) of the Constitution. Some of these recommendations were:
1. That COGTA in collaboration with the NHTL design and develop a programme to provide the necessary support to Traditional Leaders, to comply with section 2(3) and section 2A(4) of the Traditional Leaders Act.
2. That these sections of the Traditional Leaders Act provide that Traditional Leadership must be transformed to be in harmony with the Bill of Rights.
3. The Commission, in its independent monitoring role, remains available to COGTA and the NHTL to assist with designing and implementing such a programme, as well as any programmes and interventions that could improve relations between nationals and migrants.

The Chairperson of the NHTL, Ikosi Mahau supported the Commission’s call for collective efforts toward the realisation of human rights and social cohesion. The Commission welcomed the commitment of the NHTL to work with the Commission at local level with rural communities through traditional leaders in such areas to promote rights awareness.

Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission
Gail Smith – Spokesperson, SAHRC

For more information contact:

For media enquiries, please contact Mr Gushwell Brooks on 082 645 8573/011 877 3814 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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